Brain Dump: The Gifted, Ten Days in the Valley, Supergirl, and Etc.

The fall TV season is underway, with old favorites coming back and new shows revealing their opening episodes. Time to unleash a brain dump, which is a few short takes on several shows. Continue reading “Brain Dump: The Gifted, Ten Days in the Valley, Supergirl, and Etc.”

Brain Dump: Call the Midwife, Mary Kills People, Scandal

The brain dump for this week involves short thoughts on Call the Midwife, Mary Kills People, and Scandal. Let’s get right into it, shall we? Continue reading “Brain Dump: Call the Midwife, Mary Kills People, Scandal”

Review: Confirmation, with a dash of Lemonade

I never thought I’d see Confirmation since I don’t have HBO, but Dish had a promotion going to get people to watch HBO and Showtime all weekend. The only thing I wanted to see on HBO was Kerry Washington as Anita Hill in the film Confirmation.
Continue reading “Review: Confirmation, with a dash of Lemonade”

Watch This: Trailer for Confirmation with Kerry Washington

Confirmation is an HBO movie about the Anita Hill testimony in the confirmation hearings for now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Kerry Washington plays Anita Hill in this biopic. Wendell Pierce plays Clarence Thomas. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for Confirmation with Kerry Washington”

Brain Dump: Characters We Love to Hate

A brain dump is a series of short thoughts on this and that. Today I have a theme: characters we love to hate.

American Crime

The cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies
Some of the cast of American Crime. Photo © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies

I have not discovered one likeable character in American Crime. Every person in the story – from the cops to the victims to the families to the criminals – is truly fucked up. I can admire the acting. I can say, “Wow, Felicity Huffman (or Timothy Hutton or Caitlin Gerard or Richard Cabral) is doing a fantastic acting job.” Huffman’s character in particular is the most distasteful person. I cannot bring myself to like her.

Since this drama is a reflection on the American legal system, on American racial (in)justice, and on American family values it makes sense that there isn’t much to like. But, dang, I wish there was some little thread to hold on to.

Nashville

Hayden Panettiere in Nashville
Hayden Panettiere in Nashville

Well, they haven’t dubbed her “The Queen of Mean” for nothing on Nashville. Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes has never been a sweetheart, but pregnancy and motherhood have turned her into a complete shrew. Why Avery (Jonathan Jackson) loves her is beyond understanding. Why her employees put up with her is a mystery. That Rayna (Connie Britton) maintains Juliette on her record label is amazing. Hayden Panettiere deserves much credit for being so convincing as a super-bitch season after season.

Scandal

Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Joe Morton in Scandal. Image © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Everyone in Scandal has questionable ethics. It’s the ends, not the means, that count on Scandal. Let’s face it, neither of Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) parents are good role models. The people who work for her are truly scary. But Joe Morton as Rowan Pope has always been the worst of the worst.

Lately on the show Olivia has needed a white hat, a good guy. As Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) said in Orphan Black, she’s hoping for one good person in a corrupt world. Olivia’s having trouble finding even one good person. She’s turned on her dad, hoping to see him jailed for his multitude of crimes, but he’s so powerful he may either kill or destroy everything in Olivia’s world if she persists.

I’d hate to see Rowan Pope eliminated from this show. Joe Morton is outstanding in the part. But once in a while, even in the putrid world of Washington politics, don’t the good guys win? Or are there no good guys in Washington politics?

Kerry Washington at GLAAD Gives Best Acceptance Speech Ever!

Kerry Washington received a Vanguard Award at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards ceremony over the weekend. She gave a powerful speech that tells the truth in eloquent and inspiring terms.

Everyone should memorize this speech and repeat it to everyone they know. I’m working on that very thing by playing it over and over.

Other GLAAD Media Award winners for 2015 included The Imitation Game, How to Get Away with Murder, Transparent plus several more winners.

HBO Discovers Women: Will I Have to Subscribe?

HBO is coming out with a new app for Apple TV, iPad and iPhone called HBO Now that subscribes to all the HBO content for $15 a month. I may have to consider using it, because HBO has suddenly discovered women.

Elizabeth Banks

Upcoming on that network is a Billie Jean King film called Battle of the Sexes, about tennis star Billie Jean King. King will be played by Elizabeth Banks. Paul Giamatti will play Bobby Riggs. There’s a lot more to the story of that tennis match than just a tennis match. I hope the film will include all that background and history.

Marisa Tomei

There’s a film called Ms. about the founding of Ms. Magazine and Gloria Steinem. Steinem will be played by Marisa Tomei. Ms. Magazine was an important and powerful inspiration in my life. Gloria Steinem is a woman I admire tremendously. I’m always telling people we need a national holiday named for Gloria Steinem. How could I miss a film about her?

Kerry Washington

Confirmation is about Anita Hill’s role in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Hill will be played by Kerry Washington. The thing I recall about Anita Hill at those hearings is how calm and collected she was. She was surrounded by an ocean of pompous asses and she remained steadfast and calm in telling her story.

Ever Carradine

HBO is planning a series on the Salem witch trials called The Devil You Know. It features a lot of men, but quite a few women, too. Co-writer on the project is Jenji Kohan. I’m sold right there. Among several featured female characters will be Ever Carradine as the wife of a character played by Eddie Izzard.

The biggest thing on HBO, Games of Thrones, has never interested me for even one second. Same with Boardwalk Empire. I’d watch Treme if it’s still possible to watch it, maybe True Blood.

But movies about women, now that’s catching my eye. HBO, you’re getting hard to resist.

Scandal’s “The Lawn Chair” Episode

Courtney Vance in Scandal
Courtney B. Vance in Scandal

Everybody everywhere has already had something to say about this remarkable episode of Scandal. It was so clearly Ferguson, so clearly real.

But we got something not so real – it is television, after all. We got Olivia joining the protestors instead of helping the white cops who hired her. We got a public racist rant from the white killer-cop, who is arrested. We got an ending where an armed black man walked away unharmed from a confrontation with a phalanx of white police officers and then gets a hug from the POTUS.

The episode was so powerful that the real parts of the story made up for the television version of reality in which Olivia Pope is the heroine.

I want to commend Shonda Rhimes and Courtney B. Vance and Kerry Washington for their work on this episode. There’s power in story, there’s power in television. Most importantly,  there’s power in “showing, not telling” as a way to reach into the human heart and mind and make a point. Scandal showed us a situation that began with injustice, a situation that – in this country – usually ends with another injustice. Courtney B. Vance reached into our hearts with his performance and made us see a father and a son. He made the injustice real.

The Governor of New Mexico

Because I live in the New Mexico, I took note of the little subplot in the episode where the POTUS is looking at possible new Vice President candidates and he briefly considers the Hispanic female Governor of the state of New Mexico for the position.

I’m not a Republican and I didn’t vote for Susana Martinez for Governor, but I can tell you that she’s never done anything like what the Hispanic character on this  Scandal episode did. I think she may have aspirations for higher political office when her term as Governor is over. You might want to learn more about who she is.

If you put the words “Republican female Latina” and “politics” together it leads somewhere predictable. In the same way, the words “unarmed black male” and “police” lead somewhere predictable. I hope this episode of Scandal helps change the latter predictable outcome.

Scandal image: ABC

Shondaland Thursday, AKA Rhimesday, is Coming Soon to Your TV

Let me count the ways that Thursday nights, AKA Rhimesday nights, are going to be amazing when the fall TV season begins.

  1. Shonda Rhimes
  2. Ellen Pompeo and Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew and more
  3. Kerry Washington
  4. Viola Davis

That’s 3 solid hours of women lead drama from Shondaland productions. That’s a night for television, my friends. May I celebrate the fact that two of those leading actresses are women of color? Yes!

What Shondaland will Cause on Rhimesday Nights

On Thursday nights real life will stop. The only things operating in the void will be televisions tuned to ABC and eleventy million tweets about every move on ABC for 3 solid hours.

Those fat cat white male dudes who run ABC and Twitter should be bowing before Shonda Rhimes. Bowing.

Here’s a little preview from Shondaland of where we might be going with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder.

The Baby Bump

Everyone has something to say about the way Scandal has tried to hide Kerry Washington’s pregancy. Here are a few of the articles on the topic:

There are more articles like that. That is one interesting baby bump. As you can see, the pundits have found many examples of ways the baby gets hidden.

The technique I’ve noticed on Scandal is the abundant use of close up head shots of Kerry Washington. In fact, there was a sex scene with Olivia and Jake (Scott Foley) a week or two back that was all head shots. I found it one of the more intimate and downright sexy sex scenes ever. Forget the rest of the anatomy, the future of sex is above the neck!

What's behind that file, Olivia?
What’s behind that file, Olivia?

Actually, Shonda Rhimes, there are more ideas you could use. As a public service, I wanted to point out a few ideas to you. These worked for Jennifer Beals on The L Word.

  • Carry two large paper grocery bags everywhere you go.
  • Spend time in the snow so large bulky coats are required.
  • Stand behind everyone else in the scene and peer through their heads at the action.
  • Stay behind the kitchen counter.
  • Put a pillow on your lap when you’re sitting down.
  • Prop yourself up in bed with a ton of pillows and bedding around you.
  • Stand with your back to the camera.

Here’s to all the future babies whose growth is hidden in creative ways from the television cameras. Here’s to the moms. May you all be healthy and happy.